Colored Pencil: Birds, Eggs and Ribbons

August 29, 2010 | By | 23 Replies More

Here’s a small (5×7) colored pencil on smooth Bristol. I enjoyed working with the birds and ribbons theme and have finished four: Wren, chickadee, oriole and cardinal. Here they are at a glance and you can see the gallery here.

After these, I was still interested in the ribbons but trying to find some other way to work with them. My perceptive and idea filled friend over at Wholly Piecemeal suggested eggs as being related to birds and knowing I love their shape and texture. That was brilliant and resulted in the ribbon nest above. I like how delicate and fragile it appears as well as the contrast between the neutral eggs and the aqua ribbons.

I’ve got one more egg and ribbon piece – larger at 8×10 –in progress but I can feel the colored pencil phase is ending.  I’ve got the urge to paint again and have already started playing around with something new and will show that soon.

About the pencils: Most of us have our favorite brands and favorite colors in those brands. I’m pretty well invested in Prismacolors having used them for years with a good sized (read: a LOT of pencils) collection as well as being very familiar with the colors and how they perform. Well, the manufacture has changed and the cores (can’t call them lead after all) are different. Because I have so many old ones I can readily compare them to the newer pencils.

I’ve noticed the newer pencils seem softer and the cores are much more variable in how well centered they are which makes keeping them properly sharpened a trial. The blenders in particular (I know some people hate them, but they work for me) are more fragile and brittle – impossible to keep a point.

Am I the only one? What pencils do you use? I’m not sure about changing brands now, but information is always good to have. Please, let me know, I’m curious.

PS Don’t forget to get your cardinal greeting card – that’s him over there on the right – because his last day is the 31st.

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Category: Drawing

Comments (23)

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  1. E J Mordasky says:

    The ribbons with the birds are very eye appealing—I like them all…
    and I enjoyed reading about the pencils—struck me funny that I just had the same feeling of finishing a painting—instead of another journal page being next…but I’ll go back to journaling as it is so me …

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Hi EJ!
      Thanks for stopping by. It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who sort of “feels” their way 🙂

      You’re blog is beautiful – love the dark background setting off those wonderful photos!


  2. suhita says:

    it never works for me to sharpen my pencils- i use an exacto knife. and ye, the pencils are noticeably softer than the first set i had almost 20 years ago… still, i’ve never found anything close to Prismacolor that I love…

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Thanks for confirming, Suhita, about the softness of the pencils. I’m afraid to think how long I’ve had some of these pencils 🙂

      Your sketchblog is brilliant! I wish my sketches had that kind of life.


  3. Pooja says:

    Lovely paintings. I use Prismacolors and have had them for only about a year or so now. If I buy them open stock, I try to pick pencils that don’t have non-centered cores but when I buy sets, it’s hard to ensure that. I have found them easier to maintain with an electric sharpener – I used a manual one before and a battery one, which did nothing more than chew up the pencil. The electric sharpener is really good and has been able to manage the off-centered pencils too.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Thanks, Pooja, for the compliment and for your thoughts on the Prismas. That’s an excellent point about the electric sharpener. That’s what I use as well and it is the only way to work with colored pencils, especially since I have to re-point them all the time.

      BTW, those baby elephants in your Flickr are awesome – very captivating.


  4. Pooja says:

    Forgot to mention – I’ve also tried Derewent and a couple of other brands of wax-based pencils. They are easier to maintain but compared to the Prismas feel a bit scratchy on paper. The only other brand I seem to like is Dick Blicks but Prismas still are my first choice.

  5. I have Prismacolor and Faber Castell’s. I like both. I haven’t bought any new ones in the last couple of years so if they’ve changed in the meantime, I haven’t experienced the changes yet.

    Your ribbon series is very nice. It has a soft and delicate feel to it.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Thanks Timaree for coming by – you make my day!

      That’s the thing I like about the pencil work – delicate and airy. The white backgrounds really bring that out. I can’t imagine filling the whole picture surface in with pencil but many artists do and it’s beautiful. I guess each to his own.

      I’m not completely sure when the Prismas changed but it was, maybe, the last 5 years? (I think it was only a year or so, but I’ve gotten bad about compressing time in memory so it has to be longer.)

  6. donna noble says:

    Those ribbons are just lovely.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Thanks so much Donna – the ribbons are a theme I’ve circled ’round and back to for many years. It’s nice to know that you appreciate them too 🙂

      I checked your blog – the directness of your sketches is amazing and wonderfully bold. Good Job!

  7. Susan says:

    Love your ribbon theme. Beautiful delicate artwork.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Sue, thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

      Having sneaked a peek at your blog – I’m stunned at the portraits! You have the knack for it, not every one can catch a little bit of life on the page. It looks like you’ve had a break from posting – hope all is well.

  8. Wendy says:

    Hi Monette,
    I am having the same issue with Prismacolours. I use a Staedtler pencil sharpener but I only have one for a month and the pencils decide it is blunt. I must try with my Albrecht Durer to see if they think the same. But I am currently using s sketch book where I don’t want to use wet media so the Prismacolours are getting a good workout. I am timing my drawings because I’m trying to speed up, but a lot of the time is spent in sharpening.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Wendy, thanks for your note. I generally use an electric sharpener but that just won’t do for on the spot drawings like yours. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one having the breakage problem but I can’t say it’s so bad I’m ready to change brands yet.

      You’re so dedicated (or just plain brave) to set a time limit 🙂 It shows in the life and verve you’ve captured in your sketchbook. Your style is unmistakeable!

  9. Alex Tan says:

    Beautiful color pencil drawings! Very smooth and soft, at the same time very vivid!

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for looking. It’s the blender that helps with that smoothness and brightens up the color. Of course, it means going over the entire drawing with a well sharpened blender 🙂

      Just had to have a look at your blog and found some fantastic pencil work and great sketches too!

  10. Raena says:

    I have a very large, and older, set of prismacolors too. I like them, but colored pencils are a slow process that I haven’t the patience to use often. You’ve done some beautiful sketches with them!

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Hi Raena (love your name!),

      You’re right about the sloooooooowness of CP 🙂 My own method has evolved over the years so it’s not as slow – there’s only two layers in most areas of a drawing. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by.

      Your self portraits are special – it’s really hard to do justice to oneself and you’ve clearly not shied away from it. I like the one of you as a painter, even though you called it brutal, because it’s got a great “live” quality and the skin tones are fantastic.

  11. nancy t. says:

    I really love your ribbon and bird drawings. I like working with colored pencils and almost exclusively use Prismacolor, although I also have Derwent pencils. My electric pencil sharpener does the best job, but it just grinds them down so fast. I keep trying out different sharpeners, but haven’t found one yet that I really like. nancy

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Nancy, thanks for weighing in for the Prismas. I know what you mean about the electric sharpener but I can’t do a thing with a manual one myself 🙂

      Loving your bright, happy blog!

  12. Lyn says:

    Hi! Long time no see!
    Love the eggs with ribbons. The rest of the “Birdy” Pics are good – but I especially like this one.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Lyn! It has been a long time. The bare feet gave you away 🙂

      Your blog is beautiful – and perfectly all about everything; I especially liked the story about the lint shoe.

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